Let me summarise my views from two aspects – as an entrepreneur and the other as a solar-electric boat builder.
From an entrepreneur perspective,
- There is talk of streamlining multiple labour laws to set of four labour code. From the past record of this government in making statements in major policy and leading to real implementation, I doubt if this happen in the near future.
- The much hyped 59 minutes loan upto 1 Cr for MSME is another scheme that would have benefited some people but the large MSME sector is yet to get any benefit. No idea why it is highlighted as if something major was done.
From a solar-electric boat builder perspective,
- Jal Marg Vikas and the promotion of inland water transport is a stated objective. The cargo and passenger movement in NW1 and other waterways is planned. However, apart from some hyped launch and pilot operation nothing has taken up. In our attempt to get permission to operate solar ferry in Varanasi, a turtle sanctuary is a bottle next. After three months with 5 different departments, the permission is given for an hour operation in the morning to cut through the sanctuary. Please keep in mind that local boats with petrol OBM traverse all the time with no approvals required. Governments invest in metro as infrastructure project with most of them never yielding returns however it benefits the economy if one factors the time saved. In the same way, other cities like Mumbai, Kolkatta, must take cue from Kochi Metro and its attempt to extent it to water transport.
- In GST, Aircraft engines were reduced from 28% to 5%. Why cannot marine engines, currently at 28%, also get the same benefit?
- There is much emphasis on Clean Rivers, pollution free India with green Mother Earth and blue skies. This means that boats must be operating in clean energy too. However there is no single incentive or subsidy that the government offers to make this happen. Even when they supported road transport under FAME 1 for five years there was not support for water transport. Even in FAME 2, 10,000 Cr for three years announced this budget, there is nothing for water transport. The officials drafting these policies while sitting in Delhi have no clue that water transport is greatly used by people in Kerala, Goa, West Bengal, Assam and many other states.
- Apart from FAME discrimination for boats, there is GST discrimination. In this budget the GST for EVs was reduced to 5% from 12% in compared to 18 or 28% for other vehicles. However the GST rate for both solar and electric boats are same as petrol or diesel boats.
- An interest rebate upto 1.5 lakhs is provided for purchase of EV. This will help consumers buying electric bikes, three wheelers and cars. As always, this is not provided for purchase of electric boats.